How to Take a Shower in Brasil and Other Remarkably Astute Observations about Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
My Greatest Hits from my first blog:
My Diary / Meu Diário
Wednesday, June 04, 2003 / quarta-feira, 4 de junho de 2003
The other day... someone, I won’t mention his name, but he is a math teacher with a very sexy accent, used the pejorative in this house “veado!" I am the first to admit that swearing in Portuguese is just that much more satisfying... I can’t remember the context, but since there are two "veadinhos" living in this residence, one of us (the math teacher without the benefit of a sexy accent) quickly made use of the internet and googled his way to a place that sells road signs… three days later there was large package waiting for the afore mentioned purveyor of palavreado ruim… to see what the word veado means click the link. The sign now graces a wall in our home... I do not have much time to write today, but I will promise a treatise on the joy of swearing in the romance languages on a future date. One can safely say that one can buy anything on the internet.
Thursday, June 12, 2003 / quinta--feira, 12 de junho de 2003
This is the time of year when with less than a week to go before we leave, we receive numerous requests for things to bring... along with my required peanut butter… that is good, it gives me some time to shop for strange things, pens, vitamins, aspirin… like there are none of those things in Brazil… the only thing I feel the need to bring however is peanut butter… so off we go tomorrow, to shop for underwear and socks, and vitamins and floppy disks and tee-shirts and chotskys…
This is the time of the trip where I begin to loose my mind… I forgot to take the trashcans out last night, Ernie our dog, has yet to forgive me, he likes to run down the street at midnight… as I roll the cans to curb… I forgot. So I was (no one else seems to notice these things) awoken early this morning to the sound of the garbage truck, and had to run in my boxers all over the front yard to get the cans out… it is quite a scene and I am sure the neighbors lie in wait all year to see me do this… then I drove all the way to work, through annoying traffic to get to the parking structure with out the CD’s I was returning to the computer center, back I came… and back I went… the rest of the household have learned to stay away from me when it is one week to lift off… of course they can’t be bothered to remind me, they, I am sure of it, enjoy the drama… tomorrow who knows, I may forget to put on my socks… but I digress from my intended theme.
The United States is a great country; it is great because we have massive quantities of peanut butter. Contrary to popular opinion, we are not great because of our reprehensible and war-like behavior, we are not great because of our freeways, scratch that, we are, but amongst all of the other things that I find easily dispensable when abroad, the least is peanut butter… so I sneak a few jars in my luggage, Skippy or Jiff creamy style. In Brasil it doesn’t exist, except, horrors of horrors, in the candy isle. It is enough to push me over the top, to make my professors of multicultural education to look at me in dismay… I cannot for the life of me be anything less than an ugly American when it comes to peanut butter… it is ok, M refuses to drink coffee here. Oh and like tomorrow is a full moon and Friday the 13th... great, just great...
Wednesday, June 18, 2003 / quarta-feira, 18 de junho de 2003
Well the bags are packed, the passports are out, Ernie is moping around, and the reals have been changed into dollars. The blue van comes at 830am tomorrow to take us away.
I spent an hour on a job that should take 15 minutes… a latch on a gate so the house sitter and yard people can get in easier… you know the kind… read the package directions, six screws, no problem… well I put it in and the gate couldn’t open… a little swearing, and I realized it was because the gate opens the other way, ok so I took it all off and then re hung it all breaking a drill bit and having to move it again, as some sort of nail or something hung up the rest… if you discount the woodpecker, or vaguely termite look… I think it will stand until we get home… now the sprinklers are on, and I am testing them… if I could put the dog on automatic it would all run perfectly with out me …
The traffic today made me nuts, either too slow, or too rude... and I know that in a week I will have forgotten all my manners and will be bruising people in the back seat of our mighty fiat as I hit a lambada far too hard… I can't wait... We have a tradition upon arrival in Guarulos (the International Airport in São Paulo... after passing though immigration and customs... Milton dashes to call his parents, I buy the bus tickets where I get to see how much Portuguese I have forgotten... Huh / hein?... then as we wait for the bus we have a coffee and pão de queijo...
Ok, dear readers… next time I write I will be in South America, wearing my cerolas, beneath the Southern Cross, and around the corner from the Tropic of Capricorn.
Sunday, June 22, 2003 / domingo, 22 de junho de 2003
I think I know what a million is. We went to São Paulo early today and returned at 930pm to see the Parada do Orgulho GLBT. Let me explain what a million is. A million people pass through the Rodoviária Tietê every month… that is easy to understand… this is now arguably one of the nicest bus depots in the world… especially after the remodeling… its much nicer than the Sacramento Airport – what with the shopping, restaurants, internet café, and game room… bus arrival and departures are shown on large video monitors, not unlike an airport. The metro connection makes getting to and in the city amazingly easy… you just have to enjoy people.
The over all lack of high security here (no one in the right mind has a grudge against Brazil, indeed as someone told me last year, it would be the absolute end of the world if Brazil was attacked – minus a very weird SARS form we all had to fill out in the airport) makes everything a breath of fresh air here to me, it is as if a large weight has been lifted off our shoulders (mind you they do not replay the planes hitting the World Trade Center every evening, there are does not seem to be much on the news at all here about Iraq or Afghanistan, and I do not know if they have an yellow or orange alerts, etc). THIS is a vacation!
Now try to imagine the Mayor of the world’s third largest city (28 million) participating in the parade today, with out any visible security, without hundreds of policemen on every building top talking in to their collars, with out other policemen with video cameras filming every participant (as is done in Sacramento) and only one helicopter (from TV which televised the whole thing live nationally, certainly not for security). There were a lot of Police there, but they all seemed to be enjoying it all as much as we were, and despite every rule being broken by USA standards in regards to public consumption of anything I was at pains to see anything violent, angry or dangerous… this in the midst of a million people! The parade began 1ish, actually set to go at 2, and didn’t stop until 6…where we stood and we had to make the bus home, and besides we were beat.
Understand that, I am not blind, I do know that Sampa (as São Paulo is affectingly called) and its cultural rival Rio are both plagued by crime and such… some of it arguable the highest in the world… but what is different is that it hasn’t stopped any one from enjoying life as far as I have seen in my numerous trips here since 1996. In fact, Rio, with its violence and crime, was recently named the friendliest city in the world. Brazil, I suspect should be nominated as the friendliest country… people go out of their way to be helpful, witness the craziness in the airplane, with people vying to help the annoying woman, and they helped her at the same time as they were “reclamando” her. But you can always, emphasis on the always, get help – when you are lost, people love to give you directions, even if they have no idea where it is you are going. One trip M and I made in Minas Gerais, a few year as ago took us through a number of very picturesque towns, whose signage, I can only pray has improved… we saw 10 times more country than we had planned, and met hundreds of very “helpful” Mineiros, who no doubt were as perplexed by the lack of signage as we were.
So I kind a know what a million is... I saw them all pass by me this afternoon.
Tuesday, June 24, 2003 / terça-feira, 24 de junho de 2003
Oi gente! (hey folks!) Today was another good day in paradise... beginning with a grueling aerobics class at our gym and ending with a rousing game of dominoes that my parents taught us and we brought down last year.
We went down town as is the custom and went for a walk with Milton’s Dad took a few pictures of some of the older houses, I give my self extra points for houses with old doors, a fusca or bike… and looked for numbers… not much luck with that today. I try every year to see how far I can go, 1-10 are the hardest... after that it moves... I use house and building numbers as I walk around... someday I think I'll write a counting book with my collection. I also took a great picture of a spectacular looking pole outside of Banco Bradesco downtown...
It is such fun to do stuff with them as with in any given block, we run into ex-students, old friends, all of us doing the same thing, going to the ATM, or going to get batteries or a toothbrush, all an excuse to go see the movimento. Milton’s dad worked in three different movie theatres over the years… he knows everything about film, if he was in Sacramento I’d have him create a course in film history… he’s that interesting. He lost his last job when the last theatre in town closed (no thanks to videos), they have a theatre here now that is in the old train station, the train quit running about thirty years ago, as folks began taking the busses.
We ended the evening with a quick trip in the mighty fiat to the supermarket (not to be missed) and swung by Milton's English teacher at CCAA, a private language school. She insisted that we talk to her class, we came home two hours later. The class was an advanced English class who insisted on asking me all sorts of questions about Bush, the war, American culture... I'd give my right arm to have that kind of discussion at CSUS. My last class reviews complained because I talk too much about Brasil, I told them that, and they thanked me, as most Brazilians I know, they feel that people os states pay little of any attention to anything outside of the country. It has been ages since I could have an intelligent conversation with kids like this...
Going to have three days in Brasilia, Vera a a good friend of mine, is going to be a at professional congress there, and can hang with her and her partner... it is supposed to be spectacular...
Right now Jô Suarez is on... it is the Brazilian equivalent to the Tonight Show... except that he speaks five languages, has written a dozen novels, produced a number of pays and a film or two. His guests are excellent. It has the same pattern as the Tonight Show, except is as socially redeeming as it is entertaining. Sometime hard for me to understand, but anything helps as they say! He does something else that is great... he entertained an American Jazz singer last year, who didn't speak the World' Most Beautiful Language, he did the whole discussion in English. He does it in French as well, there is no subtitles or translation... folks just figure it out here...
Tuesday, July 08, 2003 / terça-feira, 8 de julho de 2003
Well I came home to send this to the website and have almoço here with all the family is raucous at best. I like to sit in the other room, away form the kids with Milton's Dad and brother who always watch a futebol program on TV... Bate Bola that is a loud and crazy argument between a group of corpulent men who debate to the point of blows the finer aspects of the beautiful game. Of course they are incensed that Brasil lost to Argentina last week.
Quiet time… the noise here ebbs and flows here like the tides… after lunch it ebbs to just a few television sets in the back of the house, today was good as one of Milton’s brothers took most of the kids downtown… I think there was at least twenty minutes before a major crisis occurred, but we were gone by then… I chose to fugir with Milton (who is taking a Spanish class for some god forsaken reason) and go look for numbers with my camera… I bagged a 6 the hardest ones are 1-10 after that it pretty much flows… now the kids have gone again, and we are in our own aural zones again, me here in the front room, where Tata is sitting on the couch munching a bag of bacon salgadinhos flavored horror, listening to music by Adriana Calcanhotto (Perfil a very nice MPB)… soon we will go to the academia where they will fill the empty spaces with even more noise… used instead to get us moving in our aerobic attempts at getting rid of what Milton’s Mother insist that we eat. Well insist is not really fair, she feels absolutely terrible, if I don’t eat at least a couple of helpings, which means that I need to go to the academia every day that I ma home. While I eat, everyone must of course offer me each dish a minimum of 12 times… “Daniel here, have some rice”, “did you get some rice”, “and here have some more rice”, “Rice Daniel?” “How about some more…” I finally woke up last year and realized that Milton’s father moves to the TV when they eat to get away from the women who are actually traficantes in food… where, I have to endure the television at the highest possible volume, which is competing with the TV in the other room, and the kids and ladies at the table… all this must be at the highest possible volume to be heard if we have to compete with the neighbors and the street noise… now its time for popcorn… “Daniel, want some popcorn?”
Saturday, July 19, 2003 / sábado, 19 de julho de 2003 (part 2)
As I said earlier in part one, it has been another great day in paradise. We have been hanging around the house this afternoon and evening here in Florianopolis as Ruy is playing with his a camera I brought him California. Right now he is busily using his laptop to put a picture of my face on that of Nadia Comaneci...
In Amparo, they all want me to drink Coca Cola, which I detest. Even if I liked it, I would be remiss to avoid the opportunity to pontificate ( I was after all a Fulbright Fellow at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica) a bit about how I haven’t traveled 6000 miles to drink Coke, eat at McDonald’s or see American movies, all of which I could do very easily in California if I wanted (which I have demonstrated that I don’t, numerous times, which doesn’t seem to bother anyone, and anyway, the social mores dictate here that every intimate act must be shared and announced to everyone in the immediate vicinity, and would rather spend my hard earned money, and what little time I have here to explore the more intricate aspects of Brazilian culture.
How to Take a Shower In Brazil
A case in point… if one is to take a shower in Brasil one must begin to discuss it at least 20 minutes before doing so. If you live alone, you my call a close friend to let them know. It is best to mumble to yourself, but loud enough so that someone else will hear (it doesn’t count if you do not) “vou tomar um banho”. Now if you are serious, and bathing here is serious, you then must move around the house from family member to family member, either mumbling it until at least one other person, says “”Vai tomar um banho?”, by which you must respond “vou”… not going even near the shower yet… this ritual continues until everyone who is awake, has had the opportunity to ask you “are you going to take a bath?’ After stating clearly that you will be bathing soon. I am not sure what the mathematical tension point is, but there is an obvious breaking point by which you do actually take the shower. After which it is important to note that you are not done, in the act of taking the shower, or at very least having done so (at which point, you indeed may talk about tomorrow's shower plans if you want, it is perfectly fine). Now, you must need know that my preferred method is to complete the bathing ritual while walking through the house with my wet towel and hanging it on the clothes line. The act in itself is an act of defiance, the towel, being an obvious Freudian metaphor for the flag, which is strategically positioned in the front of the house in Brasil to show neighbors and passers by, just how many people have bathed that day in any one house. I can look out off of Ruy's balcony here, across greater Florianopolis and see thousands of proud towels flying proudly in the gentle sea breeze that bathes this glorious city, stating proudly that we are indeed a clean people, and we are not at all afraid to show it! The now, clearly clean and refreshed person, must now repeat the discussion, by passing once again throughout the abode, informing everyone that they have taken the shower. "I just took a shower", the traditional response being, "oh that is good, I had one too today, it was wonderful". The mother, must ask, "Did you take a shower?" By which the clearly bathed and clean person, must then respond "Yes, I took a shower". This is an incredibly important ritual, that is in fact not dependent on just bathing, but must be rehearsed numerous times though other intimate body functions of all people in a home. It has been exceedingly helpful for me in that every conceivable conjugation of the word “to bathe” is issued, and I can study its use at least seven times a day, as people come and go in M’s house to eat, sleep, and of course shower. It is important to understand that this ritual is also extremely important for other acts of intimate hygiene… "vou fazer xixi", "vou fazer coco"… etc… but it IS considered rude to announce publicly that your are brushing your teeth. This steps across social boundaries that I have yet to explore, so I encourage the reader to keep posted of these events. I apologize, as this research is an ongoing ethnography of a typical Brazilian household, and will take years to complete, if ever. I can say with some confidence that I think the Brazilian National tourist board should sell the county on "here we have put the I in intimacy"... perhaps in a few weeks when I travel to Brasilia, I will take it up with someone in authority. Ahh but I see I have digressed once again...
Well, in so doing, Milton’s family works tirelessly in finding ways in which to make my trip a more pleasant and comfortable one, mostly through the development of a plethora of audio-phonic options through the use of the five televisions, the stereo and the telephone in conjunction what the local street noise and flora and fauna that by nature of being a semitropical ecological setting exude a sense of sensual raucousness. I must again remind the cherished readership of this blog, who have not hung on every word of my increasingly important personal diary, the only quiet thing here is the the Tropic of Capricorn which tears thru our town without a trace or care.
This all combines to make a cacophony of sound the likes of which we in "os states" would call the authorities about, and hear is considered a low din… last year’s pentacampeão victory, the 20 trios electricos in the Gay and Lesbian Parade in São Paulo and carnival all demonstrating quite adequately to the non-native ear the actual reality of sound in this most wonderful of places on earth. But as usual I have digressed once again. The point of this has been that the family was concerned that I hadn't a decent cola beverage to consume (guaraná or water not being sufficient I guess) they being the wonderful people that they are, and that I have grown to love so much, have made sure that I have access to a cola…
Wednesday, July 30, 2003 / quarta-feira, 30 de julho de 2003
HOW TO SEE THE PRESIDENT OF BRASIL
Yesterday, Berlane, her dog Dudu, and a friend Marcia came and got me at the airport. Berlane was kind enough to drive us around a bit; we crossed the magnificent new Ponte JK and stopped at the Cathedral and went inside. Then off to see the changing of the guards at the Palácio de Alvorada, where the President lives.
Today was another fine day. I woke up late after Vera and her friends left the hotel, and went for a walk. The hotel is near the TV tower, which when it was constructed was one of the tallest towers inthe world, and still is quite impressive and rode the elevator to the observation deck. Took a bunch of fotos, and decided to grab a taxi and go to the Praça dos Três Poderes... near the federal congress building. I had a good laugh, as when I got in the taxi I accidentally asked the taxista to take me to the Praça dos Muitos Poderes. Três = three; muitos = many… he thought that was pretty good, but was kind enough to correct my misuse of the world’s most beautiful language as he drove there (about 15 minutes and R$15.00 from the hotel) the Praça was something I studied during my brief tenure as an architecture student at OSU many moons ago.
Went there, and walked around, it is an impressive place, the Congresso Nacional on one side, the Palácio do Planalto, which is the seat of presidential power on one side, and the Supreme Court on the third, overlooking a vast expanse of Brasilia (and Brasil for that matter).
I was walking around when one of the tour guides yelled out to the masses that today someone was going to subir a rampa. This is cool, as the President meets important people at the top of the ramp, it is a huge honor, and would be great fun to see… but alas… the guest went in the back door… and we all dispersed. I did take note of the South African flag flying about the place though…
Since the battery was going on the camera, and this was taking more time than I thought, I decided to push on, and walked up toward the Esplanada dos Ministérios... to the Palácio do Itamaraty... when I noticed a large number of clowns, across the street from the presidential guard which was all lined up... along red carpet leading to the entrance.
Using my vast super powers, I deduced quickly that indeed something important was about to occur... after all one rarely sees this many clowns in one place, even in Brasil. That with the South African Flag displayed along with the Brazilian flag and the large amount of excitement...
I waited, and watched numerous people come and go, and as the clowns took turns getting their pictures taken with the guards, policemen, and the each other, all the time people were getting more and more excited, when after a while we heard sirens across the Eixo Monumental and there came the President in his car... and drove past us and into the back of Itamaraty (seat of foreign ministry). Everyone was cheering... even the clowns.
A few moments later, just before the South African’s limousine drove up, I heard the band of clowns (Terapeutas de Alegria) call for the President… just then he peeked out the door of the Palácio, and waved at all of us... everyone cheered... "Lula!"... just then the South African entourage came, the guards stiffened, the Ambassador trod up the red carpet and disappeared into the building... and we all dispersed... it was great fun... and my camera battery went dead at that very moment, great timing, and it was time I met folks as planned for lunch.
I arrived back at my hotel marveling about how calm and serine Brasília is... so little military, the police were very friendly, indeed enjoyed us and liked answering questions. Brazilians (including the clowns) took turns taking pictures of themselves with the guard and the police... everyone seemed to be enjoying the freedom and liberty. It is something that clashes with my experience when I lived in Guatemala during their war, and recently around any government or airport in os States. My what a difference, when Clinton or Bush came to Sacramento and tie up traffic and scare us all half to death with security and traffic jams... to have a President who can drive himself around, and be seen, who plays soccer with workers on Sundays in the open air, with out helicopters... that with the freedom of airport security here (I have yet to frisked or asked to take off my shoes – that won’t happen until we head for os states), I cannot feel that we have won anything in this so called war on terrorism, but in fact we have lost our sanity.
But I digress... Berlane came and got me for lunch, and we drove back to the capitol where she parked right to it. We "did" lunch amongst politicians and the media... then she had to go to a meeting, and her house guest, Marcia and I went on a tour of the senado federal... very interesting... including a tour of the museum that describes the changes in government from the time of the emperors, the move from Rio and thru the dictatorship and the constitutional reforms to the present... very interesting to see a country proudly presenting all its struggles and come to terms with liberty and justice (as in os states it is most certainly a work in progress). Brazilians do not just wash over the pleasant parts of history, they expose it all to the light, even in the government museums.
At any rate, it is very exciting to be in the center of the country - both spiritually and physically - to see so many people - poor and rich, powerful and regular, so proud of their country and with every reason to be... this is a great place... by any standard at all..
So, you rightfully ask, how do you watch a President in Brasil... well you wait a longtime, to the point of sunburn, and when he (or in the foreseeable future here, She) scream and wave like hell when he drives by... (I have a considerable advantage having been here during World Cup) because if you do, he might sneak out side of the room, and wave at you... it helps to have a couple of dozens clowns as well.
Friday, August 1, 2003 / Sexta-feira, 1 de agosto de 2003
A Deus Brasília! I am in the airport after a raucous few days doing the sites... everyone either went to work, or to the congress they were 'supposed to go to this afternoon, so after a nap and a shower, I checked out and took a taxi to the airport... It was a pleasant ride, thru the city, past the blocs of housing and landscaping that makes this city such a marvel - and a UNESCO patrimony. The sky too... is indescribable... everyone marvels at it, there are poems and songs... nothing can describe it... Overall it was a great affirmation of what Brasil is becoming. I now have a better understanding of what Brasil is trying to be, why the build such wonderful buildings when they can. At best it was amazing to see the Brazilian government in action - to see Brazilians so proud of what they are accomplishing, and of their history, in a way that is wide open, critical, and awe inspiring to witness. As I mentioned in another entry, the most amazing thing is to have such open access. You can park right next to the government buildings, there are few if any troops guarding anything. We seem to have lost so much of our basic freedoms.
Sunday, August 03, 2003 / domingo, 3 de agosto de 2003
It’s pretty warm today, and the front rooms of the house are like an oven, so I decided to take my computer and venture into the inner depths of the Rosa Family household. I am sitting here, in the cool shade, beneath the clothesline, that separates the two halves of the house… next to the clothesline is a dinning table, and a cabinet. Behind me is the hammock where Valdir sleeps all day (he is a night guard). I gets interesting when we have lunch, the TV's are on, the laundry is drying, the nephews are fighting, and Valdir is snoring away... in os states we might be concerned for the sleeping person, here life goes on.… at full decibel.
On top of the cabinet next to my chair is a basket that has the following contents:
· 1 can of Multi Inseticid bug spray;
· 1 can of CERCA car wax (I believe this is a spray-on form of car wax), odd as our car hasn’t been washed since we arrived;
· 1 can of Nugget shoeshine polish “Preto”;
· 1 desorderante Avanço (looks like Right Guard), smells different tho;
· 1 tube (2gms) of CEKLIN, a kind of fizzy vitamin C you take in a glass of water if you have a cold;
· 1 deck of playing cards;
· 1 large cloth bandage;
· 2 types of tape (wide) one masking the other plastic used to mail or ship things;
· 1 pair of scissors;
· 1 pencil;
· 1 yo-yo;
· 1 razor;
· 1 bottle of super cola (white glue not unlike Elmer’s); and
· Some sort of strange black plastic substance rolled up in paper, and
· uma caneta (tipo BIC)..
I have no doubt that if I were to ask in a minute or two if there was any glue, a minimum of three people would begin searching in earnest, and after a bit of time, M’s mother would say “look in the basket”…
While I am making this critical census, you need to be reminded that there are 2 televisions on with in 10 meters of each other, at full blast… TV 1 has a futebol game between Corinthians and Paraná, with Milton’s brother Valdir asleep on a mattress below it snoring so loud, that I am sure that one could hear parts of it in the street if it were not for the TV’s on in an every other house in the neighborhood. I know this is true as I can hear the kids playing in the next house. TV2 is replaying a soap opera that M’s father taped last night when they all went to M’s sister’s house for pizza. It is important of course to return home and watch the tape before the new one comes on tonight… commercials and all, after all we don’t want ANY surprises.
M’s dad just came back from taking Barbara home to her parents, and turned off Valdir’s TV, and then went to his bedroom. Adimir then woke up and turned the TV back on… we now have three TV’s on… he got up and changed the channel to another game Brasil vs. Columbia… we just scored a Gol, and the score is 2-0 Brasil). There are now three TV’s on with in 10m of each other, I am sitting in between them all.
Why all the relaxed state of affairs on a warm spring Sunday in South America? We went o Campinas. It was a near act of God to do it, but by god we made it. Milton’s mother couldn’t travel with out her Lady in waiting (grand daughter, Barbara), and of course we couldn’t leave until after they had returned from mass.
I told everyone last week that I was not going to stay in on Sunday, but was going to Campinas to the feira de antiguidades… while I was gone in Brasília, it was decided that M, his mom and dad and of course Barbara, the chunky 14 year old granddaughter were going too. Campinas is only 45 minutes away, but one would think we were traveling to os states… everyone had to be called, and called again, the house had to be locked up, and M’s Mother had to make sure every single window was padlocked and then checked at least twice. The three doors had to be locked and the gate fastened.
Barbara had to come because M’s mother cannot go out with out at least one grandchild connected to her… I mean it might cause saudades if for even a few hours her grandkids weren’t near her. We had a nice drive, I drove to and from, and we walked around the neighborhood and the feira, and then had lunch in a swank Choperia (Giovanetti's) that is in a converted mansion.
I like driving here, and in Campinas which is a big city of about 4 million. The road to the freeway is winding and very curvy, with all sorts of menacing trucks and busses and insane drivers of cars, motorbikes and horses... when you get to the freeway, its a quick 15 minute drive to the toll booth and then on into the city. The freeway is every bit as good as those in os states, except it is squeaky clean, and well taken care of - it should be as the tolls are excessive...
The weather is really warm and smoggy here today... it hasn't rained in weeks, which allows every rancher, farmer, and nutcase in the state to set fire to the roadsides and fields... its funny as this time of years it can be rather feio... burned patches everywhere, but with in minutes of any fire, the grass and plants begin to come out. It always amazes me, and if there is any rain at all the green springs out everywhere... it should rain soon as the ipê's are all in bloom, especially my favorite ipê amarelo...
Milton just woke up from his nap in the room with his mother’s sopa opera blaring, and went to the front room where his computer is, to work and to have the TV on there … we now have 4 TV’s on with in 20 meters of each other. I think I'll go find uma televisão desligada and take a nap. 3-0 Brasil, I can relax.
Saturday, August 09, 2003 / sábado, 9 de agosto de 2003
Today is a nice cool, rainy winter day... just like it was when we got here… I got up early to go to the gym, at 830 every Saturday Cesar has us doing circuits… its great fun, and the people are really super. People here are really the best. I cannot imagine a gym or aerobic class in os states where a visitor hangs with them for a few months and then at the end they all shake your hand, give you a hug, and wish you well. There is a sweetness in people here that does not exist any where in the world. And this time of the trip, I get so much saudades that I get a bit weepy… folks hug you, and wish you well, with a misty eye… they really like each other, and want you to come back (I will)… something absolutely different in Sacramento and the rest of the states. I think that if I was there are not it doesn’t make a difference. When I return to work, people are not interested in what I do, and honestly, I have lost most interest in what they do. We have become so disconnected and unattached in our community, the os states in general. So when people here express interest in having Milton and I come to work, or give a workshop, and just hang out… it really moves me. We have lost something really important in our lives of privilege and ease in os states… one of which is civility. Each time I must return to os states it is harder and harder for me… I have come to love Brasil, this really crazy family and these even crazier people so very much.
Sunday, August 10, 2003 / domingo, 10 de agosto de 2003
Trissle trassle trussle trome… time for these boys to go home… Our last full day here... we leave Amparo tomorrow afternoon. We have hired a van to take us all to Guarulos (the airport in São Paulo). It has become a sort of tradition, all the family who can, will come along with us to hang out as we check in. The airport is really nice, and has a lot of shops and restaurants, and because there is no need for hyper security, it is actually a pleasant place to hang out when traveling. We more or less finished packing before lunch and took M’s Mom and Dad to a self service they like. We then diverted ourselves by allowing me to drive them around town as I tried to find a few more numbers… we ended up at M’s sister’s house and hung out for awhile and came home and took a nap. TV Cultura was playing a Brazilian film (O Bolero) about futebol, and I watched that for awhile… tonight we are going to a movie downtown… a new Brazilian film “O Homen Que Copiava”. It’s a good way form keeping us from being to sad… Tomorrow we will get up and go to the gym before we close the malas and leave… Leaving here is hard, I will miss everyone (see saudades in the dictionary), so much, but I am also missing Spencer a lot. I think tourism is much easier than connecting with people. In a tour, you stay in your bus or van and hotel and see people thru a lens. I have avoided that for a number of years, and now when I say good bye even the folks at the gym get misty-eyed as I do… the people here are the sweetest, most kind, helpful and humorous people I have ever met. My love for the country, M’s family, and my friends has grown to be something that I feel very, very fortunate to have. M’s parents call me their son, and I consider them my other parents…
Brazil is the future, and I feel so very privileged to be apart of it. I close this year’s Brazilian chapter of my diary with this Bahá’í Blessing…
Bem-aventurado é o lugar, a casa e o coração, e bem-aventurada a cidade, a montanha, o refúgio, a caverna, e o vale, a terra e o mar, o prado e a ilha, onde se haja feito menção de Deus e celebrado Seu louvor.
Blessed is the spot, and the house, and the place, and the city, and the heart, and the mountain, and the refuge, and the cave, and the valley, and the land, and the sea, and the island, and the meadow where mention of God hath been made, and His praise glorified.
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